Wednesday, 12 January 2011

Ted Williams: Silky Voice Of A Homeless Man

It would be fair to say that Ted Williams is living proof that dreams can come true - particularly the American Ones ;). Practically overnight, he went from being a homeless nobody to a silky voiced sensation. It’s little wonder that an entire nation is transfixed on this man now nick-named "Golden Pipes".

If anything, his story proves the power of the Internet. When a video featuring the full glory of Williams' baritone was posted online by The Columbus Dispatch, the video clip quickly went viral. It reached 8 million viewings in little over a week on YouTube. Before anyone could say, "give that man a second chance", the job offers had started flooding in.

Anyone would agree that his story does not make for happy reading. From a young age, Williams had dreams of being a radio announcer. He trained in this field but then fell on hard times.

Like so many who are enamored with the entertainment industry, Williams succumbed to the lure of drugs and alcohol. Williams himself agrees. In one interview, he states that he had a long history of drug and alcohol abuse and that it was most definitely the catalyst for his downfall. He had been living on the edge of society since 1996 when fame finally found him.

The mother

His mother, now 90-years-old, is a proud woman who laments her only son’s downward spiral into a life of alcohol and drug abuse. She says that he comes from a good family and his unfortunate downfall occurred as a result of series of bad choices.

Clearly upset by her son’s lifestyle she reiterates in the video clip that his upbringing was a good one and that he let not only her, but also his own family down by choosing drugs and drink over them. She says that his problems started when he dropped out of the army in the seventies.

She admits that the viral video that has propelled her son to possible stardom embarrasses her but she is also hopeful. Like all mothers, she wants her son to do well. She hopes this is the lucky break that he deserves and that finally he will be able to do something good for the family he left behind so many years ago.

The women

Because of his wayward lifestyle, Williams was reckless with the women in his life, and one more so than all the others. That woman is Patricia Kirtley. She had four daughters with Williams. Williams left the family home when the girls were still young.

Not only that but Williams had children with other women, pro-creating a total of nine kids. It was Patricia who came to the rescue of these children too. She took under her wings a baby boy who was the son of Williams and a ‘druggie’ girlfriend.

But Patricia didn’t stop there. She also arranged for the other babies to be put in the homes of her cousins and relatives. ‘I couldn’t bear to see those babies go into a foster home,’ she said in one interview.

Patricia was the sole provider for all five children as Williams left the family home almost twenty-three years ago due to chronic drug abuse. ‘I am good at making soup,’ Patricia joked when she asked how the family survived.

All five children are now grown and have jobs and children of their own. Patricia’s story is all the more remarkable due to the fact that she is partially blind. ‘That’s why my children are such good readers,’ she said, ‘because I made them read aloud to me.’

Williams did not play a big role in the upbringing of the children because he was never home. But Patricia did maintain contact with him and he sometimes visited for Thanksgiving. He did not contribute financially.

When asked about her relationship with Williams, Patricia’s response is one of sadness tinged with nostalgic pride. When asked why she fell for him, she confirms what we all suspect. ‘It was his voice,’ she said, ‘who couldn’t love that voice.’

The children too are proud of their father’s new found fame but that doesn’t mean that some of the old tensions don’t exist but more of that later.

The "discovery"

There is no doubting that there is lots of sadness in the story of Ted Williams but all that changed last week when he was approached by a reporter from The Columbus Dispatch -- you just never know when someone's luck is about to change.

The reporter approached Ted and offered him a dollar to demonstrate his voice. Williams was holding a sign which made reference to his baritone talents.

Ted Williams was so grateful to receive the dollar – at the time he said it was like getting twenty dollars – that he happily gave the reporter a little demonstration.

He boomed, “When you’re listening to the best of the oldies, you’re listening to Magic 98.9.” The reporter was so impressed, he gave Williams two dollars.

Later that day, the reporter came back with a camera and the rest, as they say, is history. That video clip went up on YouTube and practically overnight became a YouTube sensation. Just like The Laughing Baby and Justin Beiber, Ted Williams story is an unquestionable example of the power of YouTube and the Internet.

What is, without question, most startling in the video is how mismatched the man and the voice appear. But the ear does not deceive the listener. This is a man with a unique voice and a unique talent.

Despite his very apparent state of squalor, Ted Williams displays a certain charm that is both endearing and exceptional. His warm personality, jovial demeanor and willingness to joke in spite of the obvious difficulties is a sight to behold.

As soon as the video went viral, the interview and job offers started flooding in. He was first asked to appear on a radio station in his native Ohio.

Upon hearing his interview on this radio station a woman, named Tracy, called up the station saying she was a representative of the Cleveland Cavaliers. She said that she was so impressed by Williams she wanted to offer him a job as their full-time voice-over artist. And she didn’t stop there -- a mortgage/rent-free house in Cleveland followed as a perk!!

Ted Williams was both moved and shocked by the offer. ‘They offered me a house!’ he exclaimed with genuine emotion.

That was only the start of the merry-go-round. Since then he has been invited as a guest on to The Early Show, The Today Show, Late Night with Jimmy Fallon, Entertainment Tonight, Dr. Phil, Good Morning America, to mention but a few.

And just to prove that he has made it to the top, the most recent offer has come from Oprah Winfrey. There is no doubting that the baritone star never imagined he would see the words “Ted Williams Oprah Winfrey” in the same sentence, but God knows stranger things have happened in his life.

When he appeared on The Early Show he was asked specifically about how he felt the trappings of fame and success would affect his history of addiction.

‘It’s not going to be easy,’ he admitted. Williams does have an addict counsellor working with him and he repeated the counsellor’s advice in the interview. ‘My counsellor says that I am going to have to learn to meditate instead of medicate.

When his mother, who appeared on the show with him, expressed her concern, he concurred that it was a valid concern. ‘Two years is not a great length of sobriety … All I can do is take it one day at a time.”

Despite the dramatic changes to his professional circumstances, the silky voiced charmer still has some way to go before he sorts out his personal affairs and re-build burned bridges with his family.

Bust-up with daughter

Evidence of existing tense relations with his family were all too clear on Monday night when he and his daughter were cautioned by police for arguing outside the Renaissance Hotel & Spa in Hollywood. Williams was there to appear on Entertainment tonight and Dr. Phil.

The argument erupted late on Monday evening. His daughter, Janey started screaming at her father. The police were called to the scene and the angry duo was brought to the local police station.

When Williams later appeared on Entertainment Tonight, he explained that it was just a family gathering that got out of control.

Janey had a different story. She said that her dad had been drinking and that during the evening he had consumed a bottle of whisky as well as numerous bottles of Corona and Budweiser. ‘He is a heavy drinker,’ she confirmed in a separate interview. On the Entertainment Tonight show, Williams denies that he was drinking.

Williams will have to work hard to maintain his good fortune but the help is certainly there. As well as the various job offers, the Screen Actors Guild Foundation has offered to help Williams become a guild member voice-over artist.

His appearance on Dr. Phil will also be a tough one. He is due to appear with five of his nine children along with their mother Patricia. No doubt there will be many hard memories to overcome there and living them out in the public eye will not be easy, but the fact that his family are there show that they ultimately support him and wish him well.

Many are saying that the story of Ted Williams is indicative of the times we live in. On the streets he was little more than another wasted talent. One reporter bashed the state of the American economy that allowed such talent to go to waste.

But this is also the story of an individual with a dream. In an interview with the Associated Press, Williams makes it clear that he has been clean for two years. No one can imagine the strength of will that it must have taken to get clean whilst living on the streets but that can only be testament to the power of Williams dream.

It is up to him, now that he has been given this chance, to make the most of that dream. Here’s hoping his star shines on and on.

» Next article: Chatroulette Alternatives.

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1 comment:

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